The Republican field of candidates at tonight's debate includes former Solicitor General Ted Cruz, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, and former NFL player and sportscaster Craig James. They all trail the front runner, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Brandon Rottinghaus is an associate professor of political science at UH.
"You've got these candidates who are trying to make a distinction between David Dewhurst, who is a longtime politician and has taken positions on many issues, and has had to do a lot of negotiations and a lot of compromise, to newer candidates who haven't had to do as much of that, and can start the race tabula rasa. So, as a result, they're trying to find a way to produce an issue and talk about an issue in a way that give them an advantage over Dewhurst."
One of the two Democrats included in tonight's conversation is Paul Sadler. He's a former state representative who once chaired the Public Education Committee. The other is Sean Hubbard, who helped coordinate outreach efforts for the Obama campaign in 2008. Rottinghaus says the Democrats could try to associate their opponents with actions taken by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature.
"To be able to box them into a corner to say, 'the choices you have made over the past ten years, or more, have been difficult and damaging to the state.' So, they need to be able to use that as a way to say, 'we need to make some fundamental changes, here. Send me to the Senate, and we can make those changes.'"
Conversations With the Candidates will air live on Houston PBS Channel 8, from 7-9, with a simulcast on KUHF. Listeners can join in the conversation at KUHF.org.